By Delphic 14 Comments
Continued from: Superman 2.0 Issue Four
Sins of the Past (Part III)
Outskirts of Keystone City, Ground Zero, 2065
Just when you think that you have everything figured out, and that the world might finally start making some sense, something new pops into place. It wasn’t a very long flight from Gotham to Keystone City, but Connor wanted the flight to be a little slower. He needed some time to wrap his head around the fact that a short while ago, he met his son-in-law for the first time, and found out that he was a grandfather. It was a bit surreal, because the last time he had seen his daughter she was only sixteen years old, and the mirror image of her mother. During that meeting all those years ago, he had at first mistaken her for Cassie, but he had heard about Cassie’s death years before. It had amazed him even then just how much Lyla had grown, and even more so just how much of her life he had missed. What hurt the most about that meeting though, was the look that Lyla had given him.
The look she had given him was the same look that he would sometime give to criminals he had encountered for the first time during his days as Superboy, but there was something different about the way Lyla had done it. In her eyes he saw no pity, he didn’t even see anger or disgust, there was just nothing there at all. Then she had turned away from him without even saying a word, and he knew right then that his daughter did not regard him as a living person, much less her father. He had known right then she had only showed up in Smallville that day, to show him just how far she had come, and how she had done it without him.
Robert had been much more accommodating and understanding during their meeting. Robert had talked to him about Donna, his granddaughter. He would tell Connor about how the little girl would wake up wailing in the night and how Lyla was able to instantly calm her down, and how he had much less luck in keeping up with the child since she was already starting to crawl. Robert had offered him the chance to see Donna one day, perhaps when everything with the war going on was finally over, but he had also felt that perhaps Lyla would take a lot of convincing.
He didn’t blame Lyla though. The fact that he had abandoned her tore at Connor, and he constantly wondered, why he didn’t even try. In truth he was afraid. He was afraid of coming back, and seeing the faces of his friends and being reminded of all the death and destruction. He was afraid of losing control again.
Cassie had even come to him once not long after Lyla had been born, and wanted him to be a part of her life. Cassie told him that she didn’t care whether they shared the same beliefs about the world anymore, or any chance that the two of them would ever be together again; all she cared about was that she did not want to raise their daughter alone, and that she wanted Lyla to have her dad in her life, but all he could say was:
“I’m not her father.” At that time Connor had immediately regretted saying it, but he had let his frustration and fear get the better of him. After that Cassie left, and he never her again. It wasn’t till years later when Diana had come to Smallville once again and told him that there had been a battle on Themyscira, where some of the Amazon’s went rogue and that Cassie had died during the battle. During the battle Lyla had been safely hidden, and later found by Diana. Diana had offered to leave her with Connor, but he had felt even then that he still was not someone who needed to be in Lyla’s life, and he had felt that perhaps Diana would be a better parental figure for her. She was only six years old then.
“What the hell was I thinking?” Connor thought. He felt he deserved everything he was feeling right now. The hollow emptiness that was circling in his gut, the blankness of his mind, and the ache he felt in his heart was all duly earned. He had no right, to have anything to do with Lyla now. Back then he had a chance, but now he was a stranger to her and her family. Looking at what she had become, why did she need him? She had become Wonder Girl under Diana’s tutelage, and was said to be even more skilled than her mother was. Now she was a wife to the nation’s top geneticist, she had retired from being Wonder Girl in favor of being an Ambassador to the European Union, and she was also the mother to a very beautiful little girl. In the face of all that, he could not blame her for wanting nothing to do with him.
At this point the best that Connor could do would be to concentrate on the investigation. Robert had finished isolating the location of where the cells had been harvested from. The cells were definitely Kryptonian in their structure, but there was never any lab that had operated using Kryptonian stem cells. The way Robert finally found out was by looking at the genetic mapping structure. The design was a very old one, and its purpose was to clone human beings, not metahumans. It wasn’t even meant to clone living humans, but instead it was meant to be used as a sort of harvest for human organs to be used in transplant surgeries. Robert Gordon had actually scoffed at the rebels, calling them fools for even thinking that such a thing would work in the cloning of metahumans.
He then told Connor that there was only one place that this particular template had been used in the past fifty years, and that was at a now defunct hospital that was formally owned by LexCorp located in Keystone City.After saying goodbye to Robert and leaving Wayne Enterprises, he put in a call to Dr. Veritas to tell her what he had found.
“I see, alright proceed to Keystone City and continue your investigation, but be careful,” She had said, “Keystone City is currently ground zero, head to Central first and meet with Commander Starfire there at the Order’s Outpost, you’ll need her permission to enter the city, otherwise you’ll probably be considered a hostile.”
Veritas had also informed him to be very careful with Starfire, and to be very selective with what information he shared with her. It turned out that Starfire had grown into a very cunning Tamaranean warrior, and that she had a reputation for getting what she wanted out of people, whether they are friend or foe. She also had a reputation for being very violent and unforgiving against those who stood against her, and if the situation escalated then she could be a threat to their investigation.
This time Connor didn’t even bother to think about how things used to be. He had met Starfire a few times, but he never really knew her. Sure he never really imagined her being the way Veritas had described her, but as crazy as everything had become lately, and with everything else he was dealing with Connor figured it would just be better to accept what he was told, and just go with it.
Connor was approaching Cental which was on the other side of the river from Keystone City when he first saw the flames. Central had also seen its fair share of damage, but compared to Keystone City it was virtually untouched. Keystone City was an inferno, and he could hear all kinds of cries coming from the city. He honed in using his telescopic vision and that was when he saw the wall. It wasn’t a literal wall, but there were hundreds of Hawkmen and Beettlemen circling the perimeter of the city. The bridge between the two cities had been destroyed, and no one was being allowed out despite the crowd pushing and shoving at the barricades that had been set up.
When he looked at the river he saw some people trying to swim across only to be stunned by a beetle and then carried off by a Hawk back into the city. Connor looked away from the people, and gritted his teeth attempting to force back the urge to fly straight into the city and start helping people. He remembered what Veritas had told him, about how the investigation was of the upmost priority. If they found out the rebel’s plans and put a stop to them then perhaps all of this would end sooner, and Connor knew if he ran in there and started playing the hero the rebels would be alerted to his presence, and may try to flee or cover up their operations.
Connor was scanning the area looking for any sign of an outpost for the order when two Hawk’s swooped in beside him.
“Halt!” one of them said, and not wanting any trouble Connor obliged.
“You’re flying in restricted air space. State your name, and purpose for being here.”
“My name is Connor Kent, and I’m doing an investigation of rebel activity for the First Lady.”
“Humph,” the other hawk said, “well you’ve come to the right place. We’re up to eyelids in rebel scum.”
“I was told to speak with Commander Starfire, before proceeding into the city. Can you take me to her.”
“There have been many attempts on the Commander’s life in the past few days.” The Hawk who had stopped him spat, “No one sees the commander without the proper authorization.”
“My contact is Dr. Shay Veritas, Chief Scientist for the Order, tell your commander that and that should get me the proper clearance.” Connor said, but the Hawk bared his teeth and got really close to Connor.
“I’m not telling the Commander anything, like I said this is a restricted air space, so as far as I’m concerned you can fly right back out the way you came.”
“Brother,” The other Hawk piped up, “Perhaps we should call this in.”
“I told you we’re not calling in anything. Now shut your mouth before I put my mace through it.”
“You’re a second generation aren’t you?” Connor said to the Hawk in front of him. Connor had caught on when he saw that this Hawk was a little older than his counterpart.
Though, a lot had gone on during his time in Smallville, there were a few things that had not slipped his notice. He remembered when the first Hawkmen came to Smallville, and he too thought it was a great way to honor the once great Carter Hall by having his legacy forever police the sky over the new world. He had thought that perhaps it might help prevent more atrocities like what happened in Metropolis. The Hawkmen had their troubles though. The first generation despite their strength and level headedness proved to be defective by aging too quickly, having seizures, or having a complete mental breakdown. There were few of the first generation left, and the only one Connor knew was the Chief over the legion that patrolled near Smallville.
The Second Generation, were most like the man that they were cloned from. They did not have the same problems as the first generation, but they lacked the strength and had a temper that made them much more susceptible to violence. The second generation also tended to have variations in them ranging from hair color to height. Connor had once had to embarrass a second generation in Smallville for attempting to use his mace on old Mrs. Potts over not being able to defend herself from a local purse snatcher, whom Connor also found himself taking care of later.
This guy was a second generation Hawk, there was definitely no mistaking that attitude.
“Oh, Looks like we have a wise ass here.Well I like to show you what we do to guys like…huh.” The Hawk was suddenly stopped when his counterpart, obviously a third generation, built more to take orders than to their on their feet, reached up and grabbed the second’s shoulder holding him back.
“Brother, this is an anomaly, calm yourself, call into headquarters and confirm to see if this Connor Kent’s story is true.” The third said. Connor found himself caught a little off guard. A third generation was normally rather dull in its nature, and normally didn’t speak out of turn. A mutation perhaps?
“I don’t need a robot like you telling me what to do!” the second generation growled as he jerked away from the third.
“I would listen to him.” Connor added, “I was having sparring sessions with your template long before you made your first bubbles in the breeding tubes, and I rather not have to embarrass you.”
The second looked back at Connor gritting his teeth, and his right hand gripping the handle of his mace. He then looked back at the third, who narrowed his eyes at him urging him to make the call.
“Bah,” the second spat, “I’ll let the Commander deal with you. It’s going to be fun watching you get roasted.” The Hawk pressed a button on his gauntlet activating his communicator.
“Patrol to Base. This is Hawkman 2-A239. I like to put a message in to the Commander.
“Go ahead, 239.”
“I have a guy here claiming to be an agent for the President’s shag. He wants to speak with Commander Starfire. Should I grant permission?” There was a short pause, before whoever it was on the other end of the line answered.
“Go ahead, 239. Commander Starfire will meet you on the deck of the Resolution.”
“Well looks like it’s your lucky day, or maybe it’s the other way around. Either way, I can’t wait to find out.” The second turned and flew away, while the other one looked back at Connor.
“This way sir.”
Connor followed behind the Hawks for a short while as the approached a barge floating in the middle of the river. As they lowered their descent Connor caught his first glimpse of Starfire in years. She had not seemingly aged a day, and despite her alien appearance of amber skin and glowing green eyes, she was still just as beautiful. She was already walking towards them when Connor and the Hawks were touching down on the deck, her scarlet hair draped down past the middle of her back, the tips of it appearing as if they were on fire. The second generation Hawk that was with Connor started to speak:
“We brought the subject as reques…” The Hawk never got to finish his sentence as his head suddenly burst into flame from the starbolt that Starfire had unleashed from her right hand, catching both Connor and the third generation Hawk off guard. Starfire turned on the third and narrowed her eyes.
“My lady, please wait!!” the third generation exclaimed, before he too was struck in the face with the same energy that had just killed his brother. Connor looked down at the Hawk who had just murdered with horror in his eyes. He turned back to Starfire gritting his teeth and eyes full of rage.
“You killed him!” He roared, but Starfire walked right up to him never taking her eyes away from his, “What the hell is wrong with you! Is this how you treat your…” Connor suddenly found himself unable to speak when Starfire suddenly wrapped her arms around his neck and planted her lips on his.